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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Is a failure to engage hindering tech's diversity efforts? | Human Resources - IDG Connect


Photo: Mivy James
National security and defense consultant Mivy James, Head of Consulting for National Security and Defence and Deputy Head of Global Consulting for BAE Systems Applied Intelligence discusses the importance of challenging the negative stereotypes that still persist in the tech landscape.

Photo: IDG Connect
Mivy James' history with technology is a long one.

"As a child we had a Sinclair ZX81 as a home computer and in those days if you wanted to play a game you basically had to code it yourself."

Armed with a Sinclair magazine bought by her parents, James, the head of consulting for national security and defense at BAE Systems, would studiously copy the programming language out and ultimately taught herself how to code.

"Then I started fiddling around with the games, maybe changing the colors or putting my name in some sort of picture that would appear on the screen.

"I've sort of always been surrounded by people with that kind of background and it was very much nurtured through the toys that we were bought as kids, which definitely helped to spark my interest."

The technology industry is well aware of the issues it's currently facing and the desperate need to promote the education of STEM subjects from an earlier age. For James, this lack of engagement early on in life means that by the time a child reaches the age when computer science is offered as subject choice, any potential interest is often lost to peer pressure over what's deemed to be ‘cool'.

And James is not alone in thinking that in the near future, being technology literate will be just as important as having an understanding of maths and literacy. She argues that those without a basic grasp of tech are going to be disadvantaged in the job market or struggle to run their own business as outsourcing these skills can prove expensive...

Confronting tech's image problem 
James believes that even when STEM subjects are offered in schools, they're often viewed as an "optional extra for those who are hobbyists".

"I don't think it's presented in an appealing way. I still think there's an image problem with the industry."

Unfortunately, the media that we consume does little to offset these typecasts, with TV programs showing off Silicon Valley as a place that lacks meaningful roles for women, or using the unthinkable idea of a woman entering a comic book store as the punchline to a joke.
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Source: IDG Connect


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